The last few days leading up to the new year have been jam packed with activities for the Chazen crew in Taiwan. We all landed in Taipei on Wednesday December 28th, and while it would be impossible to share all the moments of our trip so far here are some key highlights.
12/28: “There is a Chinese saying that the best boss is like a servant” – CEO of Franz Collection
According to Forbes Magazine, the fourth most desired item for young Chinese is fine porcelain: vases, tea ware, decorative ornaments, etc. Our first company visit was to Franz Collection, a company founded in 2001 that has quickly risen to prominence as one of the best suppliers of luxury fine porcelain. Their mission is to bring the beauty of ancient Chinese porcelain to the modern world. Their designs focus on highlighting the beauty of nature and Eastern symbolism. All items are handmade and even most of the “simple” items may take 3-4 months to produce.
We had the opportunity to speak with the founder and CEO who not only shared with us his ability to grow the business over the past 15 years but also how he aspires to maintain an open and non-hierarchical work culture. Two key facts:
- They believe technology and innovation are key for maintaining their competitive advantage – for years they have perfected their own 3D printing technology that allows them to build molds and designs more quickly and with more delicate elements that can then be translated into a handmade collectible
- Their employees are part of a “roundtable” – they don’t have hierarchical titles and all employees have a seat at the table. This encourages innovation and respect
12/28: “Our chefs are trained for 2 years so they can perfect their dumpling folding” – Din Tai Fung, top restaurant chain known for their soup dumplings (xiao long bao)
12/28: Taipei 101
Our second company visit was to Taipei 101, the most iconic building in Taiwan and home to a shopping mall, offices, and observation deck. When it was built, it was the tallest building in the world and has won multiple awards for its construction and green / LEED practices.
12/28: “Your biggest asset and risk is your reputation” – Stanley Ko, head of Hasmore Restaurant Group and CBS ‘99 alum
Stanley gave us insight into Hasmore – a family business started by his father that manages top restaurants in Asia. They partner with global chains like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, invest in new ideas and concepts, and build their own top-rated restaurants with Michelin chefs. He generously treated us to a 7-course dinner at Ryu Gin, an acclaimed Japanese restaurant led by Chef Yamamoto.
12/29: Garage+ / Epoch
Epoch and Garage+ is a nonprofit that incubates startups and promotes entrepreneurship in Taiwan. The founder established the organization in hopes of finding a way to push Taiwan beyond cheap labor and manufacturing, which was its primary source of growth in the 1980s/1990s.
In 2016 HTC launched VIVE – their new virtual reality (VR) brand. We got to test out their games and take a tour of their beautiful building. We met with VR Chief of Staff Jimmy Feng and VP of Sales and Operations Victor Hu. They gave us insight into the future of VR and how it can be used not only in media/entertainment (e.g. Gaming) but also to improve healthcare (surgeons at UCLA use VR technology to visualize a neural MRI and CAT Scan before surgery in order to plot out the best entry site and incisions during the operation).
12/29: Alumni sponsored dinner by Shirley Wang (CBS alum) and Walter Wang (Formosa Group)
We sat around two large tables and each had our own hotpot set (traditional Chinese meal where you cook a variety of meats, seafood, and fresh veggies in a fragrant soup broth directly at the table)
Melanie Chow ’17